US says Palestinian people should decide elections
'Palestinian elections are ultimately a matter for the Palestinian people to decide,' says State Dept spokesman Ned Price
The fate of upcoming presidential and parliamentary polls are a matter for Palestinians to decide, the US said on Thursday.
The comments come after two estranged leaders of the Palestinian Authority's ruling Fatah party decided to jointly contest the polls independent of the party, in a blow to Fatah's electoral prospects, and a potential boon to rival group Hamas.
Asked about the Biden administration's position on a potential cancelation of the polls, State Department spokesman Ned Price said "the exercise of democratic elections is a matter for the Palestinian people to determine."
"We note that the US and other partners in the international community have long been clear about the importance of participants in that democratic process renouncing violence, and renouncing terrorism, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, but Palestinian elections are ultimately a matter for the Palestinian people to decide," he added.
The newly formed National Democratic Forum led by Naser al-Qudwa, nephew of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, negotiated an electoral arrangement with jailed Fatah commander Marwan Barghouti who is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail.
Al-Qudwa was expelled from Fatah on March 11 after he announced his intent to run a separate electoral list from Fatah. Fadwa Barghouti, Marwan Barghouti's wife, will run second to al-Qudwa on the list.
With the new alliance in the fray, three lists from Fatah have joined the contest, including the official list headed by Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy leader of Fatah, the Qudwah-Barghouti coalition, and the list of Abu Dhabi-based sacked leader Mohamed Dahlan.
Elections for the Palestinian legislature, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council, are supposed to be held on May 22.
They would be the first legislative elections in Palestine in 15 years unless President Mahmoud Abbas moves to cancel or delay them. They are to be followed by presidential elections in June in which Abbas is slated to be a candidate.
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